This week, my parish kicks off Advent with this seasonal perennial. It’s our entrance hymn for this Sunday. Judging from the evidence on YouTube, a lot of parishes have this in their repertoire and will likely be singing this over the next four weeks.
It is actually a French hymn, written by Simon Joseph Pellegrin over 400 years ago:
He was born at Marseille, the son of a conseiller to the Siège Présidial of the city. He was at first designated for an ecclesiastical career, from which he retained the courtesy title abbé. Though he was for a time a novitiate of the Servites at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, he soon embarked on a career as a ship’s bursar. Returning to France in 1703, he settled in Paris and composed his earliest poems, among them an Epître à Louis XIV, praising the Sun King’s military successes, which gained the king’s attention and the Académie française prize in 1704. Probably thanks to Madame de Maintenon, Pellegrin succeeded in escaping the urging of his superiors that he become more fully integrated with his order; instead a papal dispensation enabled him to enter the Cluniac order, whereupon he was at the service of various schools, such as Saint-Cyr, for which he provided numerous pious cantiques spirituelles, in which he translated psalms and canticles and set them to familiar tunes from the opera, at the same time that his services were retained for the theatres and the opera, which permitted an otherwise unknown poet Rémi the epigram:
Catholic in the morning and idolater in the evening, he dined from the altar and supped from the theatre.
Check it out below.